Reducing Costs in Precarious Times February 14, 2009Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: eLearning, opensource, productivity, recession
It’s no secret that we need to do more with less at work, given the financial mess the world is in. I’ve recently taken several steps at work to reduce costs and improve the effectiveness of our department’s offerings, and I thought it would be a good topic to discuss this week. Below are a few of my ideas. Please chime in with your ideas by adding a comment.
Ideas for Reducing Costs
Go to fewer conferences (or none at all)
I chose to not go to the eLearning Guild Annual Gathering in March (even though I was approved to go). I’m bummed about this, because I’ve learned a ton at this conference in the past, but I think it’s the right decision. I may try to make it to DevLearn later in the year depending on how things go.
Use free / open-source tools
Our team is doing more with free tools and open-source systems. Specifically, we are using WordPress, MediaWiki, and Scuttle. There are tons of great tools out there for free, so make sure to do your homework before purchasing any software/systems. Take a look at Jane Hart’s Directory of Learning Tools if you’re not sure where to start.
Build more from scratch
Build what you need from scratch, rather than always considering a vendor for a particular solution. This may be a course, a web site, an application to serve information to your learners, etc. Home-grown prototypes may not be as flashy as vendor solutions, but they often do the trick. You can also consider partnering with other groups within your organization if you need help building something (see the next section).
Look for allies and discuss your projects together. As cliche as it sounds, look for synergies. You may find a contact in your IT department who is willing to help you create the systems you need. Or, you may find a peer outside of your organization who has similar interests and goals. You may find ways to work together and save money. Seek out these partnerships – and offer your help to others as well.
Negotiate with vendors
Both new and existing contracts can be negotiated during times like these. Make sure you talk things over with your organization’s legal department first, but I’m willing to bet you can (re)negotiate better deals with your LMS vendor, content providers, etc. I’m sure a bunch of them are giving me the evil eye right now for saying this, but I look at it this way: During times like these, I would rather renegotiate a deal at a lower price – and continue to use a vendor – rather than drop them completely. They have to understand.
Use social networks
Stay up to date on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. Build relationships, connect with peers, and I believe you’ll be very pleased with the results. You may find that you’re able to do more research once you are better connected with peers (rather than always having to pay for expensive research reports). Plus, I find that my social networks help me keep my finger on the pulse of our field, and ithey have helped me meet some very smart (and extraordinarily helpful) people.
Don’t freak out because of the recession/depression and crawl into a hole. Look for ways to continue to improve your skills. It benefits your organization if you keep up on the latest tips, technologies, and trends. Most information related to our industry is freely available on the web, so dig in, and keep reading and sharing information.
What are you doing to save money at your organization?